New Super Mario Bros. [Wii – Beta]

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a side-scrolling platform developed by Nintendo EAD and released in November 2009. The game was announced at E3 2009, and from the early videos and screens, Kirby64 was able to notice various beta differences:

  • The propeller power-up was different from the final game.
  • At the Nintendo Press Conference they said at the end of every stage a result screen will pop-up and show you how many enemies you stomp and how many coins you collected, but this only appear in the coin battle and free-for-all.
  • The checkpoint flag was changed to bowser’s head at the final game and the background color of the flag was black. In the beta it had a skull.
  • A music note / melody can be seen in the HUD.  That note is not in there in the final game.
  • The blue arrow in the screen with the lava had changed its color in the final game (it’s red and the board is yellow).
  • The world 5-3 background looks different from the final game.
  • Some stages were removed or hevily changed in the final game.

In the screen with Mario in the pinguin-suit we can see an area that was originally going to be world 3-1, but it was later removed. The ice structure has a different design in the final version, with a more blue color and snow on top of the ice.

Some more info on the beta differences can be found at Mario Wiki:

In the E3 2009 demo, after players go through the boss door, they all fall from the top of the screen and into the boss room, as the initial Larry and Morton videos showed. This was just like in the original New Super Mario Bros., where the player also enters the Bowser Jr. battles the same way. In the final version, the players are already on the ground when the boss room loads up.

Kab-ombs, Mr. Blizzards, Stretches and Bowser Statues were meant to appear but they were cut out as soon as the game was released.

Also, LucaPM noticed a unused file in the NSMB Wii code, called “test_lift.arc”. As we can read at Rusted Logic, it is a graphic file, a stretched grey block.

Thanks to Kirby64 and LucaPM for the contributions!




Explodemon [PS3/Wii/PC – Prototype]

Explodemon! is an upcoming 2.5D side scrolling platform game in development by Curve Studios for PlayStation Network, Microsoft Windows and WiiWare. The project is described as “what Treasure would create if they mixed Yoshi’s Island with Half-Life 2”, and is inspired by elements from games as diverse as Street Fighter II, Halo, Super Metroid and Bangai-O.

In the personal blog of Jonathan Biddle, Design Director at Curve Studios, we can read an interesting series of articles about the development of Explodemon!, with images and videos from its early prototypes.  From his blog Jonatahn also released the December 2005 Explodemon proto, that you can download from here. Huge props!

There were always new games concepts bouncing around at Blue, and Jamie had a few, one of which was Exploding Robot 12. Jamie’s concept went something along the lines of humanity’s last hope – a robot that couldn’t stop himself exploding – being sent out to destroy the alien menace that was threatening all of mankind. From what I remember, it wasn’t so much a platform game, as an action puzzler, where you had to navigate sections that you didn’t want to destroy, as well as blow up the enemy spacecraft and whatnot. I always liked the idea, and my recent explosion-based thoughts lead me to wonder if it would translate well to a platform game. I mentioned it to Jamie and he was up for me carrying the idea on. The early builds even had the codename ‘R12’.

For more info on the Explodemondevelopment, check One Bit Beyond!


For comparison, here’s the trailer from the final game:


Wizard [Wii – Cancelled]

Wizard was a RPG in development for the Wii, which was started at SuperVillain Studios (Crash of the Titans, Order Up!) in 2007. The story revolved around heroes who were trying to pursue a mysterious little girl trapped in the mist ravines. Sadly Wizard was cancelled due to a lack of funding in early 2009, but some screens and videos are archived in the gallery below, to preserve its existence.

Thanks to Hey Hey for the contribution!




Charlie Brown’s All-Stars [PS2/Xbox/Wii/PSP – Cancelled]

Charlie Brown’s All-Stars is a cancelled baseball game that was in development by FarSight Studios and going to be published by Namco Bandai Games, around 2006-2007, for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Wii and PSP systems. The game was based on the prime-time animated TV special of the same name, about the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. The plot of the cartoon was used for the game too:

After Charlie Brown‘s team loses their first game of the season (123-0), his team throws down their caps in disgust and quits. Frustrated and depressed, Charlie Brown wanders around aimlessly until Linus meets him with good news: Mr. Hennessey, operator of a local hardware store, is offering to sponsor Charlie Brown’s team, place them in an organized league, and even buy them new uniforms.

We can read more details in Namco Bandai’s official press release:

The cast of Peanuts has come together in an entertaining and fun pick-up-and-play baseball game, Charlie Brown’s All-Stars. Players can help Charlie Brown end his 900 game losing streak as they play baseball with an incredible cast of more than 30 Peanuts characters. Players can also take part in any of four Party Games, including batting, fielding and pitching contests, as well as a good ol’ fashioned game of “Lucy Says.” As players progress through the game they will have the chance to enjoy classic Peanuts storylines, artwork and unlock tons of bonus content including every baseball-related Peanuts comic strip. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars steps up to the plate in Spring 2007. This title has not yet been concept approved by Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Years later, contributor Matthew Culley managed to get in touch with developer Christopher Kline:

M.C.: How far into development did the game get?

C.K.: This is a guess since it’s been so long but apparently we had 6 different playfield environments, a number of characters, a few special effects, the start of a basic original soundtrack, and playable game mechanics. I believe you could play a very basic game of baseball in our demo.

M.C.: The ad mentions over 70 playable characters, this seems like a lot for a Peanuts game.  Was a list ever made?

C.K.: I managed to dig up a player roster that confirms the high character count.  Some of them were just made up characters with names taken from different employees kids.  Chandler was named after my first born son, for instance. (…) Every character had at least a first pass done, so I would assume all were playable. I did a few basic character models we used in the early stages (mainly Charlie Brown)  and we hired Christopher Pavia to be the lead character artist on that game. I know he was pumping out a lot of characters (…).  Tom Green was the Art Director at the time (…).

There were 8 teams of 9 players:

Charlie Brown’s All-Stars

Pitcher:             Charlie Brown

Catcher:            Schroeder

First Base:        Shermy

Second Base:    Linus

Third Base:       Pig-Pen

Shortstop:         Snoopy

Left Field:          Violet

Center Field:      Lucy

Right Field:        Frieda

Peppermint Patty’s Pelicans

Pitcher:             Peppermint Patty

Catcher:            Thibault

First Base:        Leland

Second Base:    Jose Peterson

Third Base:        Floyd

Shortstop:         Franklin

Left Field:          Sophie

Center Field:      Shirley

Right Field:        Marcie

Junior League Champs

Pitcher:             Royanne

Catcher:            Ethan

First Base:        Wayne

Second Base:    Patty

Third Base:        Lila

Shortstop:         Cormac

Left Field:          Roy

Center Field:     Poochie

Right Field:       Truffles

Team Beagle

Pitcher:             Molly

Catcher:            Olaf

First Base:        Mom

Second Base:    Dad

Third Base:       Andy

Shortstop:         Spike

Left Field:          Marbles

Center Field:      Belle

Right Field:        Nephew

Bully Team

Pitcher:             Bully (unnamed bully 6/22/94)

Catcher:            Bad Call Benny (4/16/82)

First Base:        Tapioca Pudding

Second Base:    Guido (unnamed street hustler 7/10/75)

Third Base:        Puck (unnamed hockey bully (1/10/78)

Shortstop:         Molly Volly (4/23/82)

Left Field:          Joe Agate (4/8/95)

Center Field:      Keith (unnamed bully 10/17/93)

Right Field:        Junior (unnamed bully 8/8/74)

Pig Pen’s Cousins

Pitcher:             Stinka

Catcher:            El Guapo

First Base:        Trashcan

Second Base:    Sugar Pen

Third Base:        Buck

Shortstop:         William

Left Field:          Fifi Bug

Center Field:      Ink Pen

Right Field:        Bull Pen

Tiny Team

Pitcher:             Austin

Catcher:            Maynard

First Base:        Shirley

Second Base:   Clara

Third Base:       Five

Shortstop:         Milo

Center Field:      Ruby

Right Field:      Rerun

Left Field:        Sally

Camp All-Stars

Pitcher:             Gabi

Catcher:            Magson

First Base:        Hale

Second Base:    Zoey

Third Base:        Sophie

Shortstop:         Troy

Left Field:          Chandler

Center Field:      Vivian

Right Field:        Patrick

M.C.: How many fields were planned, and how many were actually made before development ended?

C.K.: We apparently had 6 environments fairly polished with 12 planned in total.

M.C.: Where did the inspiration come from? Did someone go through all the old Charlie Brown comic strips and movies looking for content that could be adapted into the game?

C.K.: Bobby King might be able to answer this one better from the perspective of how the game idea ever came to be.  Once we knew we were working on it, we traveled to the Charles M Schulz museum and got access to an online archive of all the old Peanuts strips.  We also looked at the holiday movies.  Then we studied all the nuances we could find with both the baseball related references and just Peanuts in general to try to mimic as much as possible to give the game that special Peanuts vibe.

M.C.: Are there any more renders/screenshots/videos that you are willing/able to share?

C.K.: I happened to have a couple screenshots that I had saved for my portfolio. That’s what you already found online. There is always more random stuff but I don’t really know what we could share at this point. Screenshots would be tough since it would require pulling up the actual game on a PS2 dev kit. No idea if the studio still has any of those. You would have to talk to Bobby to see if he could / would want to do that. I doubt he would want to show off things that weren’t very polished.

M.C.: I understand the game was shown off at E3 2006. Have any trailers or videos or builds from this event survived?

C.K.: I would assume a video was made for E3. That plus the original build might still exist on FarSights internal servers. There were 2 Peanuts games that were originally supposed to premier. The other was Snoopy vs The Red Baron.  Snoopy was much further along and premiered at E3 but Baseball didn’t get shown for some reason. I remember attending and walking up to the booth disappointed to not see our game on display. This might have been right around when it was cancelled. Bobby may have more answers there.

M.C.: How much did this game’s development influence the later Backyard Baseball games that were developed by FarSight Studios?

C.K.: Technology wise, quite a bit. I think a lot of the games core framework was used and/or modified.

Further details were shared by him about the project development:

For the music side, as Audio Director I was searching for people who could pull off an authentic Vince Guaraldi style soundtrack.  We had a local pianist/musician, named William Morosi, who we were working with at the time that did a fantastic job.  That addition behind all of the menu screens and during game play really made a big difference, giving it a really authentic Peanuts feel.

We were attempting to add in all kinds of fun nuances to gameplay as well.  As I recall, if you hit the ball near Charlie Brown while he was pitching, he would do his infamous POW spin where his hat, gloves, socks, and shoes all came off before he could scramble for the ball.  I think I was also looking to add in the infamous “waa waa waa” adult speak sound as the announcer for the player at bat, which was supplemented with on screen text so you could understand them.  One of the big challenges with special effects as I recall was getting them to look right with that 2d comic feel while being in a 3d environment.  I think the 3D Peanuts movie by Blue Sky Studios did captured that style really well.  We could never pull that off back then.  Our internal game engine at the time was very basic, so we did the best we could with what we had to work with.

The title was canned because FarSight was over booked with too many games and not enough staff. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars was supposed to be developed in tandem with the game Snoopy vs. the Red Baron and was going to share some assets from that:

Peanuts was one of my favorite games we were working on during that time in the studio, and as far as I can recall, we were stretched really thin to get it all done in time.  I can’t remember how many other games we had going at the same time, but it was always multiple.  We also were constantly at a disadvantage with our engine tech so making a game look higher end to compete with the rest of the market was extremely challenging.  Ultimately it’s my understanding that Namco decided to pull the plug because Snoopy vs The Red Baron wasn’t performing as well as they had hoped.  I was very sad to see it get cancelled, and would love to see a studio take on a Peanuts baseball game now using Unreal engine tech.  I think that could do really well and be distinct from other baseball games if they do their homework, keeping it full of fun Peanuts nuances, and don’t try to make it a serious baseball game.

Red Baron turned out to be a good game, so it’s a shame Charlie Browns All Stars didn’t follow in its footsteps.

Thanks a lot to Chris Kline for the contribution, and a lot to Matthew Culley for the interview!

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise


CCTV [DS/Wii – Unreleased]

CCTV is a cancelled adventure game that was in development at Nikitova Games, designed by Jon Hare, former member of Sensible Software. The concept of the game is that players work as a security operator in charge of using cameras to find criminals and resolve various problems. While you look at different camera feeds, you can see different action going and when you notice that something strange it’s happening, you can stop / rewinds the video to find more clues. As we can read in the official description of the project:

In this game you play the role of a security guard using CCTV and cop cars to catch petty criminals and most wanted criminals alike as you travel the world finding suspects and nailing them in this fast paced game of observation, identification & interrogation. Starting as a lowly shopping mall guard, the player can rise to International head of security […]

The game has been designed specifically for the Nintendo Wii & DS to play as either a single player, as two players co-operatively or as 2 players competitively against each other.

As Jon told in his Cubed3 interview, the game is currently suspended and it’s unknown if it will ever be resurrected. Sadly they did not find any publisher interested in the project:

CCTV’s a good example of how it’s very hard to sell an original game. We did show CCTV to a lot of companies, and some companies expressed interest, but there overall response was ‘that’s interesting, I like the idea of that, but…it’s too original

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!